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By Adede Steven Akpan

As part of its cardinal objective of promoting and celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Annang to the global audience, Ati Annang Foundation Diaspora chapters comprising the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada in conjunction with the International Secretariat of the association in Nigeria is organising an International Cultural Convention in London UK.

The 3- days event is scheduled between 22 July 2016 and 24 July 2016. The venue is at the prestigious Hilton Hotel Paddington London.

In an interview with the media, the Chairman of the Local Planning Committee, Mr Akan Ukwak, informed that the programme amongst others, will explore opportunities of rendering assistance to the community especially in the purchase and donation of equipment for Diabetic screening/High Blood Pressure and computers for secondary schools in Annangland.

According to Ukwak, this gesture is not unconnected to the fact that diabetes and high blood pressure are some of the most killers of our people back home and hence deserve a collective efforts of all and sundry in tackling them. He further added, “that the provision of these medical apparatuses will supplement the Akwa Ibom State’s government effort in providing health services to its citizens across the state”.

In thanking the state government for the inauguration of the Ibom Specialist Hospital, Ukwak noted that the action of government is capable of curbing medical tourism from the country, which could attract the much needed foreign exchange to the state.

Aside Ati Annang members in the USA, Canada and Nigeria who are the joint host of the Convention, other high profile personalities who have accepted to grace the occasion are His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Deacon Udom Emmanuel who is the Special Guest of Honour, His Excellency Mr Moses Ekpo, MFR, Deputy Governor Akwa Ibom State who is the Guest of Honour and the Nigerian Acting High Commissioner to the UK Ambassador Ada Simon Ogar.

Governor Emmanuel who resumed office on 29 May 2015 has anchored his administration on a 5-point agenda of Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion and Job creation. In London, the governor will use the Convention to host a Town Hall meeting where he will use the opportunity to intimate his subjects about his programmes and policies so far. This will be the first time the governor will host a one on one interaction session with his people in London. The organisers of the Convention have stressed the need for more people especially the Akwa Ibom indigenes and stakeholders living in and around the United Kingdom to come out in greater numbers to receive their governor and engage with him through the Town Hall meeting.

Also at the event is His Excellency Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, Senate Minority Leader, Federal Republic of Nigeria who will deliver a keynote lecture on the topic: Africa’s Infrastructure Deficit – The Akwa Ibom Model. According to information from the organisers of the Convention, H.E. Senator Akpabio, CON will use the lecture to highlight the need for more investments in public infrastructures and human capital development in Nigeria as a means of taking the country to the next level. It would be recalled that during his time as the governor of the oil rich Akwa Ibom State, H.E. Senator Akpabio, CON elevated the state to both national and international prominence through strategic policies including the Free and Compulsory Education where every child in the state of school age must be in education or their parents faced fines. In the area of infrastructural renaissance, the former governor ensured that Uyo, the former dusty and rural enclave was turned into a cynosure of all eyes through key infrastructures. The epicentre of his bold developmental initiative was the construction of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium which as at today is the best sporting venue in the country. It would therefore be interesting to hear from the master strategist himself on how Nigeria can attain economic empowerment through a systematic infrastructural provision.

The morning and evening sessions of the event will be chaired by Hon. (Barr) Emmanuel Enoidem and Mr Paul Usoro, SAN respectively. While Hon. Enoidem is a lawyer by profession and Dean of Forum of Commissioners in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Usoro, SAN is a leading corporate lawyer who has represented Akwa Ibom State government in some of the landmarks election rulings. Other notable Annang sons, daughters, friends and associates of Annang across the globe will equally grace the Convention.

Also speaking on the forthcoming Convention, the International Vice President – Diaspora of Ati Annang Mrs Uduak Olufemi who doubles as the Chairman of the Project Committee/Secretary General Ati Annang Foundation Canada reiterated the importance of pooling every Annang son and daughter in one place to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Annang people. Mrs Olufemi added that it’s time for Annang sons and daughters living abroad to partner with the state government in providing basic necessities of life that will enhance the living standards of the people and alleviate poverty while at the same token prolonging people’s lives. She specifically expressed her appreciation to the President Emeritus of Ati Annang Sir Emem Akpabio for his foresightedness in establishing a veritable platform like Ati annang for the promotion of our cultures and values. Mrs Olufemi equally conveyed her appreciation to the International Executive of the association for their unalloyed support and mobilisation towards the hosting of the event. She promised that the event will surely live up to the billings and assured every guest of a memorable experience.

Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Akan Ukwak, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee added that there had been massive mobilisation of the Nigerian Community in the UK for the event. He added that the Nigerian High Commission London has been informed of the event and they have promised to help in the mobilisation to ensure that many Nigerian will be part of this epoch making event. He concluded that various Annang cultural displays are lined up to entertain invited guests and dignitaries at event. Among the cultural displays are Abang which is a distinct Annang women dance, Ubom, Ekpo and traditional Annang waist dance (Unek Itak Isin). He urged every Annang son and daughter resident in the UK to come out en-masse to support the event.

Mr Innocent Etim, Chairman Ati Annang Foundation UK and Ireland added that he is excited about the fact that his chapter is the first international chapter of the association to embark on such a Convention to promote the cultural values of Annang nation. Mr Etim went on to assure everyone coming for the Convention from far and wide that everything has been put in place to ensure a successful Convention. He further thanked other international chapters for their cooperation and the international secretariat in particular for their fatherly role in making this Convention something that every attendee will be proud of. He concluded by thanking the governor of Akwa Ibom State His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel and H.E Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON for their magnanimity in accepting to grace the Convention. In his words, Ati Annang Foundation UK and Ireland as the first international chapter of the association will always live up to its billings and expectations.

As it could be recalled, the Ati Annang Foundation UK and Ireland since its formation in 2011 has grown to become a force to be reckoned with in the area of community activism. In 2015, the association won the Best Community Association award in the UK. The award was bestowed on the association by Panache Global Entertainment in London.

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  1. A wonderfully and fantastically planned event,wiah I could make it.

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